Article Text

Download PDFPDF
130 Young driver licensing and crash outcomes in Ohio: can comprehensive driver education policy protect those most at risk?
  1. Elizabeth A Walshe1,
  2. Abraham J Wyner2,
  3. Shukai Cheng1,
  4. Robert Zhang2,
  5. Alexander K Gonzalez1,
  6. Natalie Oppenheimer1,
  7. Dan Romer2,
  8. Flaura K Winston2
  1. 1Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, USA
  2. 2University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA


Statement of Purpose Despite graduated driver licensing laws (GDL), novice driver crashes remain high in the US. This is a significant, yet preventable, public health problem. Indeed, not all states mandate driver education for novices, and only 15 states include professional behind-the-wheel (BTW) driver training. Furthermore, these programs are only mandated for drivers under age 18. In Ohio, where driver education including BTW training (plus GDL) is required for license applicants <18 years, we conducted a large population-based, prospective study to examine differences in licensing examination and crash outcomes for drivers <18 versus 18–24 years, who are exempt.

Methods/Approach State-wide licensing data in Ohio from 2018 were linked with subsequent police-reported crash records. The sample included N= 136,643 first-time license applicants aged 16–24, of which N= 129,897 received a license. First licensing examination outcome (pass/fail) and first police-reported crash in the initial 2- and 12-months post-licensure (3,789 and 16,215 crashes respectively) were profiled by age, sex, time in learner permit, and tract-level sociodemographics. Regression models assessed the association between age at licensure and crash outcomes, while controlling for covariates.

Results License applicants age 18 were up to 73% more likely to fail their first license examination, and up to 54% and 31% more likely to have a first crash in the first 2- and 12-months post-licensure (respectively) when compared to license applicants age 16. The relationship between age and crash outcomes remained when controlling for time in learner permit and tract-level SES.

Conclusion In Ohio, drivers licensed at age 18 were at highest risk for crashes post-licensure, and 16 year-olds were among the lowest risk age groups.

Significance Ohio’s driver license policies may offer protection against crashes for the most at-risk new drivers, a finding that should be tested in a randomized trial.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.